Hi Teachers,

When reporting questions, 'say' and 'ask' can be used without distinction?

Examples:

"Where is your motorbike?" the old lady asked / said.

The old lady asked (him) where his motorbike was.

The old lady told him where his motorbike was.

"Did you knock?" the old lady asked / said.

The old lady asked (him) if he had knocked.

The old lady told him if he had knocked.

Are my examples correct?

Thanks in advance
1 2
I am more used to seeing "asked" used when a question (?) is involved as in statements #1 & 4 above.

The meanings of #2 & #3 are different. In #2, she doesn't know where the motorbike is. In #3, she does.

In #5, she doesn't know if he had knocked. #6 does not make sense (or is written incorrectly......the "if" should be omitted and then is like #3).
I would reserve say and said for quoting a statement.

I would use ask and asked for quoting a question.

I believe that you can technically get away with using say for questions, but your readers will find it easier to use the correct inflections if you keep say and ask separate.

The old lady asked, "Where have you been?"

The old lady said, "You were not here."

I would emphasise this even more if you are naming the speaker after the quote.

"Where have you been?", the old lady asked.

"You were not here.", the old lady said.

If the speaker is asking a purely rhetorical question, you may find it more artistic to use say.

The old lady said, "Is it really better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all?"

Regards,

Dave
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Thinking SpainThe old lady told him if he had knocked.
The above sentence is the only one that is grammatically wrong. You could say: The old lady told him that he had knocked, but I'm not sure there are many situations in which it would make sense. A person usually knowswhether he has knocked or not!Emotion: smile
Thinking SpainThe old lady asked (him) where his motorbike was.
The old lady told him where his motorbike was.
Bear in mind that ask and tell are not synonymous in your sentences. Ask is the correct choice for reported speech.
Thinking Spain"Where is your motorbike?" the old lady asked / said.
Both asked and said are correct and possible. Common sense should say that a person can't ask anything without saying it, unless the question is asked in written form.

CB
Hi Anonymous,

Thank you very much for your reply. I should have written the numbers. Next time I will.Emotion: embarrassed

Best regards

TS
Hi Anonymous,

Thank you very much for your reply. I should have written the numbers. Next time I will.Emotion: embarrassed

Best regards

TS
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Hi cayuse,

Thank you for you reply. I'll follow your advice, 'but your readers will find it easier to use the correct inflections if you keep say and ask separate.'

Best regards

TS
Hi Cool Breeze,

Thank you for your tips and reply too.

I'm not sure there are many situations in which it would make sense. A person usually knows whether he has knocked or not!

You are right there are not many situations, except if the lady is deaf! Emotion: smile

The old lady in the story is deaf, and she is happy that the person came in.

Best regards

TS
TS

Just to clarify on this last one.

"Did you knock?" the old lady asked / said.

The old lady asked (him) if he had knocked.

The old lady told him if he had knocked.

The first two are correct. If it is not a direct quote as in the last two, you can never ever say/told followed by what should obviously be a question.

The reason you can say: The old lady said, "Did you knock?" is because she did speak/say those words. However if you are paraphrasing the quote you must use the correct ask/told form.

The old lady asked him if he had knocked.

The old lady told him to bring some milk.
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